Facebook has dragged its feet in responding to fake news websites that attacked Hillary Clinton and promoted Donald Trump, even though some of them were fronts backed by the Russian government.
A new report the website The Information analyzed SEC filings and found that Facebook earned $9.1 billion in advertising revenue for the first three quarters of 2016.
The social network generates funds from users spreading and sharing viral content around, including fake news stories promoted by conservative pages. To cut off the flow of fake news would also hurt Facebook’s bottom line.
TheWrap points out that this money means “Facebook reeled in more ad dollars than Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, and Disney, parent of ABC and ESPN.” The site is a bonafide media juggernaut, and has arguably more power to influence people than any other media company in the world.
CEO Mark Zuckberberg originally claimed that fake news is only a small problem for the company, but after that allegation prompted an outcry, Zuckerberg claimed the company would put more procedures in place to fight fake news.
His Wall Street backers, dazzled by the billions in advertising revenue, may not react so kindly to such attempts.